Monday, February 24, 2014

I Swore I'd Never Do This...

Isn't that what parenting is partially about? Learning to eat your own words and throw out your preconceived ideas of child-rearing? I'm constantly doing just that... It's humbling and liberating at the same time, because I'm reminded yet again that I don't know everything and that I don't HAVE to know everything... And I've also seen the evolution of myself in these situations. This time, I'm shaking my head at myself over not sticking by the "treat all of your children equally" rule... I keep finding myself treating the youngest differently than her older siblings were treated at her age. I never understood how anyone could let their youngest kid, aka "the baby", get away with so much that the older kids didn't. 

The situation that smacked me in the face on this topic happened this morning in the grocery store... And this wasn't the first time I let LLL get away with this... I carry her when she gets tired of sitting in the grocery buggy. And I continue to push the buggy with my other hand. This would have NEVER been allowed when the older Herd Members were younger... I probably would've popped their leg or hand and forced them to calm down and stay seated for the duration of the shopping trip. With her, I just pick her up and keep going... And I'm starting to realize why I allow her to do things like this. One rationalization is that she couldn't really hear until a couple of months ago and is behind her peers in talking (although she's made serious strides in catching up) that makes her more of a baby...right?!? I mean, since she seems younger to me... She's actually like a younger kid.. So giving into her is ok, right?!?

 I know I'm wrong here. I really, really do. I feel guilty over it for several reasons... A) I'm kind of cheating her out of the structured discipline I managed to enforce with some continuity for the other three, and so far it's stood them in good stead behaviorally... B) Seeing the other kids watch her get away with stuff, knowing I wouldn't let them get away with it (sometimes I lie to them.. Saying they DID get away with whatever she's doing). Fostering jealousy and hard feelings between these kids is not what I want to do... Yet I can see it in the Princess' face sometimes when she realizes an injustice. I've come to realize that my treatment of her stems from a couple of things... One of which is that she's a very demanding child and has been high needs since birth. I'm so used anticipating her needs and doing whatever it takes to keep her happy, in order to preserve harmony in our home, that it's become an outdated mode of operation. I've been in no rush to potty train her, even though she's showing signs of readiness. She doesn't always need the allowances I keep making for her... And I realize that the biggest reason I treat her differently is that she's my last baby. As I celebrate each milestone of her accomplishments, I'm inwardly mourning loss of her shrinking babyhood...  And I know that I will never watch one of my children go through whatever stage she's going through. Parenting isn't just about raising children into productive human beings... It's also a realm of growth for the parent... And I keep reminding myself of that when I feel selfish for holding on to her a little too tightly. 

Her experience as a child will be different from her older siblings because she doesn't have another child being born on the heels of her entry into toddlerhood. Her brothers are 14 months apart, Sundance and the Princess are 21 months apart, and LLL and the Princess are 25 months apart.... She's older than 25 months now, I'm not expecting another baby, and more than likely will never do so again... So her position of the youngest in birth order is relatively safe. It kind of scares me to think about there being no babies to raise after her... But I'm trying to focus on the opportunities that having older kids will bring.... And eventually the time High Roller and I will have as a couple. But for now.. I'm just going to enjoy her... And try not to let her turn into a spoiled brat... Even though I'd still love her anyways. She may not have the benefit of tighter structure like the older ones... But she does have the benefit of a more mellowed out mama. 

Naughty Mama

So last night I wore my sleep shirt I got around Christmas-time that says "Naughty Not Nice" on it... It's fromVictoria's  Secret, and makes me feel kind of like a cool love kitten when I wear it, even though I'm really a sleep-deprived mom with bags under my eyes. I walked into our Kitchen to start making breakfasts and lunches, and Butch Cassidy looks at me and kind of laughs in the bck of his throat, and says "I knew it!"... I looked him and said "What? What did you know?"... He said "you're Naughty... Not Nice... " and I was mildly horrified... Trying to figure out how he would even understand what the shirt implies. Then he said "THAT'S why Santa didn't put anything in your stocking! You'd better act better this year I you want him to bring you anything"  I had to laugh... Kind of relieved that he A) had no clue about the kind of Naughty my shirt was referring to and B) That he still has such a strong belief in Santa and that the magic still exists for him.... My babies are all still innocent... And I dread the day that ends. I had been weepy last night about the fact that they're all getting so big so quickly... And this was like a comforting pat on the shoulder reminding me that they're still mine... For awhile.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bumpy Reentry

By: Jessica Azar
This trip to Dallas was absolutely amazing, and was much needed by the High Roller and myself to spend time as a couple and relax. In recent years (since we started having kids, we have usually not ventured far from the hotel when we got to go on a trip like this... Just getting away from the demands of work and constantly caring for children and taking it easy was a fantastic way to spend a weekend... But this time we decided to go adventuring, and it made for a seriously enjoyable, fun-packed weekend.

As soon as we landed, we rented a car and headed to Southfork Ranch in Parker, TX, which is the setting and filming location of the classic TV show Dallas. I've loved and watched the show since I was a kid, and the High Roller has watched all of the new series episodes, so we were very excited to be going there. On our way to SF we stopped off at a random exit and found a locally owned Mexican restaurant for lunch and it was fantastic. It was called Pollo Salsa, and they were grilling large amounts of chicken on an open grill that could be seen from the ordering/dining area, and it smelled wonderful. I ate the Crispy Chicken tacos,  and the aforementioned chicken was delicious in the freshly made crispy corn taco shells. We left there for Southfork, full and happy. Southfork was gorgeous... Over 300 green acres with horses and longhorns everywhere. We got to tour the Ewing mansion, as well as the famous patio balcony and swimming pool, which always makes me think of the scene where JR was shot, which led to the "Who shot JR" cliffhanger. 

It was both surreal and exciting seeing the locations that were so familiar from a show I've watched since I was a child, and nostalgic, too. I can still picture my Dad's foot keeping time with the Dallas theme music from when I would watch it with them. We were excited to see that current episodes of Dallas were being filmed on location while we were there! The stars' acting trailers were on site, and we could see them dashing in and out of white vans to be taken to the filming sites. Before heading to our hotel, we also saw the memorial site they had created for JR and his parents. Very, very cool experience.

Our hotel (at which the High Roller's employers so graciously provided our lodging) was huge, luxurious and very swanky... The Hilton Anatole. After checking in, we went to the room and the very tired High Roller passed out. I went to the spa and had a fabulous pedicure... So fabulous, in fact, that I fell asleep during the foot massage. That evening we had supper at the fine dining steakhouse on the 27th floor of the hotel with another couple who were also there for the Presidents Club awards ceremony. Much verra fine single malt scotch was drank, excellent steaks were eaten and we all had a fantastic time telling stories and socializing. I love meeting new friends.

We got up the next morning, after sleeping like the dead in an amazingly comfortable bed, had breakfast and headed to Dealey Plaza. We went to the 6th Floor Museum at the Texas school book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald famous fired shots at JFK. The museum had amazing displays and memorabilia relating to JFK and the assassination. It also presented evidence for various conspiracy theories surrounding the murder, which were fascinating... We both love conspiracy theories so this was right up our alley. Afterwards we went to the infamous Grassy Knoll and saw the X's that have been placed on the street where JFK was hit by the bullets while riding in the motorcade. I'm a history nerd, and getting to visit places like this is exhilarating for me. We then headed to the Reunion Tower for a fantastic view of downtown Dallas... It's the big Ball in the sky of Dallas' skyline. The GeoDeck observatory allowed us to take in the sights of downtown Dallas, and they had a very helpful interactive, touchscreen to help visitors locate certain landmarks below. We searched and found a landmark restaurant that sounded great to try... Sonny Hutchinson's BBQ. they seriously had some of the best BBQ I've ever eaten... and the beef brisket was so tender it was falling apart. we ate way too much and headed back to the hotel.

I had intended to go for a run... but I was so full that I passed out in our room next to the High Roller. We got up in time to get cleaned up for the President's Club awards dinner and set out for the Verandah Club where it was located. I'm so proud of my husband for achieving the honor of being one of the top producing salesmen in his nation-wide, top of the industry company. It's an awesome feeling to see him honored for his hard work, intelligence and salesmanship, as well as his service to customers along with the others in his company on the same level. Our dinner table company was fantastic.. very entertaining people who all had great stories to tell about their lives at home. It's always invigorating to me to be around people who are at the top of their professional game... the competition among them exists, but they are all social and cordial just the same.

Now, as I sit on my flight home typing this, I prepare for re-entry.... I don't mean our plane landing... I mean re-entry into the world of being a full-time Mom, instead of a wife and best friend on a luxurious vacation. The time we spent away together was much needed and so much fun... and it always reminds me of how lucky I am to be married to someone that I enjoy so completely. I want to do everything I can to strengthen and foster a supportive, loving relationship. Stepping back into the managing of the Herd gives me an intense feeling of palpable responsibility... it can be a heavy yoke at times, leaving me weary, as the endless questions and demands for my attention consume my senses... but it's one I wouldn't trade, because with the heft of responsibility comes the flood of hugs and kisses and excitement that we are home at last. And hopefully their first question wont be "what did you bring us?!"....  Now excuse me as I switch my party-ready wife only hat for the hardworking Wife and Mama one...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Packing Up! Going from Mama to Non-stop wife for the weekend

By: Jessica Azar
Packing for a trip with a big family is always an overwhelming task... even if the trip is relatively short and the kids aren't going on the actual trip with the High Roller and me. We are blessed to be going on a weekend getaway to Dallas... completely paid for by the High Roller's company, as a reward for him earning his way into the President's Club nationally for sales. I'm very proud of his hard work and thankful that I have a husband who takes pride in his job. He works hard to be a good provider for the Herd and me (the Herd Manager). But packing for myself isn't difficult... I can create the list in my head and start packing outfits, plus toiletries etc... but packing for the Herd is always a huge undertaking.

For one, things that I clearly remember washing two days ago and had intended to pack for them to wear at their grandparents' house are now either dirty or have escaped to the witness protection program, never to seen or worn again... Or at least until its the wrong season to wear it. And no matter how many pairs of socks or underwear I pack for them, I always forget to pack those for one of the kids, which leaves me looking like a negligent mom who doesn't care if her kid has clean underwear or not. There have even been instances where the kids have taken things out of the bags I have packed for them to put toys or something else in there to take with them, and then we get a call saying that Butch Cassidy has no pants or shorts in his bag to wear for the weekend. Thanks for making me look like a mindless slacker, son... like I needed any help with that. And then there's packing for LLL... she's the one that has me turned into a nervous wreck this time about leaving.

She has slept away from home before, but I was with her... and she has slept at our house with someone staying here to take care of her... but she's never slept away from home without me there. With some kids, I wouldn't worry as much... but she's very attached to me and clingy right now... like a separation anxiety phase. she gets antsy if I walk across the room and she thinks she's getting left behind... so leaving her for two days and nights should be interesting. it makes me feel like a bad mom for leaving her, because I know she will get upset... and when she gets upset, the Earth shakes. I feel bad for her AND my inlaws that will be taking care of her... even though I know she will be in good hands. Hers brothers and sister will also be there, so hopefully that will distract her as well. I can also count on her pouting and taking it out on me for a few days when we come home... but this is when I stop and remind myself that being a mother is NOT my only responsibility or calling in life... I was called to be a wife first, and honoring that relationship with special time is so so so important, and needed. We haven't gotten away together without the kids in almost a year... we are long overdue for some couple time. I always try to remind myself not to take our awesome marriage for granted, and that I want to stay strong with him long after our kids are grown. The kid are a huge part of our lives... but they aren't our lives. I also believe its good for the kids to see us nurturing our marriage, so that they will remember its importance when they're grown.

I cant wait to tell you about all of the awesome adventures we have on our trip... a trip to Southfork Ranch, of Dallas the TV show fame, is planned, and Im sure other stuff will be, too!

Do you have any tips on packing for kids? Anything we should see in Dallas for sure? Any way to make LLL happier while I'm gone?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Random Surprises

By Jessica Azar
Is that title redundant? Oh well! Having kids has led to finding things in places where they shouldn't go frequently... Like on a daily basis. Make that several times a day. Over the years I've become less and less shocked by where I find things... Barbie in the toilet? So, what. Shoe in the freezer? Who cares... Unless I'm trying to fit even more frozen food in there... Then it annoys me that precious freezer space is being wasted. But today, after taking all of the kids except for LLL to school, I found something that cracked me up and made me smile. And it kind of amazed me. On the back of my SUV, on the rear gate handle that you use to open the back up, was a transformer hanging on for dear life. Starscream, to be exact, for you Transformer people out there. Somehow, he had stayed on there, clutching with just his wing, for the entire ride to and from school. With me driving 55 mph, and stopping at a couple of traffic lights... Taking various turns... He still hung on. I guess Sundance had been playing with him outside last night when I called him inside for supper. Hilarious. Never know what will happen next around here! 884c8c758befaa73bf5413992a8ac1175108f93e5a66591c87